Vitamin C Can Do More Than Just Fight Colds

Vitamin C is best known for its immune system benefits. But it can do much more than that. This powerful antioxidant protects your skin, brain, and heart from damaging oxidative stress and supports the absorption of important minerals like iron and calcium. Getting enough of this vitamin helps protect and promote overall health.

Vitamin C Benefits And Uses

Protects against anemia: If you have a  low red blood cell count and often experience symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and weakness, it could be anemia. The most common cause of anemia is deficiency of iron. People with anemia may have trouble absorbing iron from their diet. Vitamin C is a crucial nutrient that enhances iron absorption and helps prevent iron deficiency anemia. Taking  vitamin C along with iron-rich food helps increase iron absorption by up to 67 percent1.

Boosts your immune system: The benefits of Vitamin C for healthy immune system function are well known. Vitamin C is often recommended as the first line of defense when cold and flu season hits. Vitamin C supports various functions of the body’s natural immunity and acquired immunity2.

Potent antioxidant: By acting as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C may help prevent cellular damage that can lead to degenerative health conditions3. Research indicates that consuming vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of heart problems and other health risks4.

Fights premature aging: Chronic stress, pollutants, and smoking can increase oxidative stress and accelerate the aging process. Vitamin C can be a useful nutrient to negate these adverse effects and reduce the risk of premature aging5. Vitamin C is also involved in the synthesis of collagen, a vital protein that keeps your skin supple and healthy.

Good for your heart: Another lesser known benefit of vitamin C is support for your heart health. Vitamin C’s natural antioxidant effects may help prevent the formation of arterial plaque, a product of oxidation. A review of thirteen studies on heart health found that supplementing with 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day has a significant effect in reducing the bad cholesterol and triglycerides8. A similar study linked higher vitamin C intake to lower risk of death from stroke and heart diseases9

Protects your brain: Studies show that the antioxidant effects of vitamin C extend to the health of your brain as you age. Research shows that vitamin C may help protect against or delay symptoms of age-related cognitive decline10.

The body does not make Vitamin C or store it for later use, so you have to get it regularly in your diet. Eating fresh citrus fruits, apple, kale, and spinach can deliver your body a healthy dose of vitamin C. 

References: 

1. Prediction of dietary iron absorption: an algorithm for calculating absorption and bioavailability of dietary iron, 2000 May;71(5):1147-60 

2. Vitamin C and Immune Function, 2017 Nov 3;9(11). pii: E1211. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211 

3. Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health, 2008 Jun; 4(2): 89–96 

4. Observations on crystals found in the intestine of Nematodirus battus during the development of immunity to this nematode in lambs, 1976 Feb;72(1):75-80 

5. Inhibitory effect of vitamin C on intrinsic aging in human dermal fibroblasts and hairless mice, 2017 Nov 22;27(2):555-564. doi: 10.1007/s10068-017-0252-6. eCollection 2018 Apr 

6. Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men – A Prospective Study, 2010 Mar 9 

7. Effect of oral vitamin C supplementation on serum uric acid: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, 2011 Sep;63(9):1295-306. doi: 10.1002/acr.20519 

8. Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials, 2008 Jun;7(2):48-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jcme.2008.01.002 

9. Vitamin C and risk of death from stroke and coronary heart disease in cohort of elderly people, 1995 Jun 17; 310(6994): 1563–1566 

10. A critical review of vitamin C for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, 2012;29(4):711-26. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-111853